Timing is everything in theater. That's why this week's cancellation of the Education Week run of "Philadelphia Here I Come" at Brigham Young University has some people a bit miffed.
"It's unfortunate timing," said Margaret Smoot, assistant advancement vice president for university communications. "Let me underscore that. It's unfortunate timing."Mack Palmer, director of the Church Education System-South, viewed the play's July 22 performance and asked other members of the Education Week committee to do likewise the following week. Officials felt that some of the language was offensive and some of the topics were inappropriate for Education Week audiences, which were scheduled to see the play from Aug. 15-19. The play has been running since July 21.
Use of the terms "bloody" and "bugger," though innocuous in America, are strong swear words in Ireland, where the play occurs, and officials were afraid the language would offend viewers. Also, a scene that depicts drunkenness and talk of sexual conquest could bother some members of the audience, officials decided.
"You never want to offend anyone," Palmer said, explaining why the committee pulled the play's Education Week run and expressing apologies to anyone involved with the play who may have been offended by the action.
"Part of the decision (to pull the show) was that it was in the best interest of our audience," he said. "I think it's unfortunate that it comes out that there's one entity upset with the other."
"That's well within their rights (to cancel the play)," said Greg Whiteley, who plays the lead in the play. "They know their audience a lot better than I do."
Whiteley was more upset with the timing of the play's cancellation than with the cancellation itself. He turned down two movie auditions because of the play's anticipated Education Week run. Other actors turned down paying roles to be in Provo for the run or have family flying in to see the play. Whiteley's complaint is that the play should have been rejected long ago so that the timing didn't ruin people's plans.
Palmer said the Education Week committee, which acts independently from BYU, will review next year's script before giving the OK for the performance.
"Philadelphia Here I Come" will run through Saturday, Aug. 6.